I'm sick! - Home Remedies

The Dreaded Crud finally caught up with me this week. I tried to fight it. I upped my vitamins, I drank echinacea tea, I though positive "I will not get sick" thoughts. In in the end the crud won. Once you've been tackled by the flu there's not much you can do except endure. But there are things that you can do to make the whole process easier to live through.
  • First on the list for me is to drink, drink, drink. Drink lots of water, the cool water feels so good on a sore throat. There are also wonderful teas that are formulated especially for colds and flu. Celestial Seasonings and Good Earth make two of my favorites and a friend recently suggested Gypsy Cold Car Tea. Of course, coffee is on my list. It may not be a flu fighter but it is good for my soul.
  • Rest if very important. To achieve the proper restful state when you are hit by the flu you need a very soft and comfy blanket to snuggle in. Then you need a stack of favorite movies; movies that are very familiar so that you can doze in and out and still know what's going on. Movies that you can watch with your eyes shut. My sick movies this week have been My Big Fat Greek Wedding (never watch this one with the stomach flu), Two Weeks Notice, Pride and Prejudice, Ever After and While You Were Sleeping. I need happy endings when I'm sick.
  • My friend Janelle's mommy made her chicken soup when she felt awful and it was just the ticket. Mothers are very important when you are sick. Mine lives far away in Arizona but I always feel better when I talk to her. Here is a link to a yummy recipe for Chicken Soup.
  • I know a pharmacist that suggests sucking on zinc lozenges during the day and gargling with whiskey before bed. This process is said to cut the duration of your symptoms in half. I haven't tried the whiskey but the zinc lozenges seem to help.
  • I also have friends that drink Aloe Vera to fight illness.
  • Heat on your chest and throat is very helpful for coughs. My friend, Gayle, made one of those rice logs for me. It is rice sewn up in a cloth tube. To soothe the desire to cough, I warm it up in the microwave and hold it on my chest. It feels so good and really helps those night time coughing fits.
What do you to live through the flu?

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Shoestring Shopping - Cruising the Clearance Racks

I come from a long line of clearance shoppers and my daughter, Britta, has inherited the bargain shopping gene. In fact, she is the best clearance shopper that I know. Here is some advice from Britta on cruising the clearance racks.

If you are anything like me shopping can be a welcome escape from some
of the harsher realities of daily life. Since I was a little girl I
loved to take the little money that I had from my allowance, birthday
money, or money earned from odd jobs and browse the clearance racks
for the perfect addition to my wardrobe. I knew that that less I spent
per item the more I could have at the end of the shopping trip. Those
early days of shopping have long passed. I have transitioned from a
little girl with a small chunk of change to a happily poor college
student with a similarly small budged for clothes and accessories.
Thankfully the passion for browsing those clearance racks remains.

I have been frequenting T.J. Maxx lately as I have found that every two
to three months their stock sees some incredible mark downs. Recently
I purchased a pair of darling twill pants for seventy cents and a
Calvin Klein bra for a dollar. Occasionally necessity requires us to
make larger purchases than seventy cent pairs of pants. I needed a
pair of snowboarding pants a couple weeks ago and remembered seeing a
few pairs left at T.J. Max in their seasonal clearance. I found a
fantastic pair of three hundred dollar (retail value) snowboarding
pants for forty dollars. So let me share with you a few secrets
about "sales" and "clearance racks"

1. There is always a better sale than the one you are at.
2. If you find something you like but don't need it immediately wait a
couple weeks and you are likely to find it at a much better value.
3. Don't save up all your shopping energy for a single trip. Casually
keep your eyes out for new things so that you don't feel pressured to
make purchases for over priced items.

Happy shopping!
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Shoestring Shopping - Great Book Buys

If you have visited my other blog, Wondersome StoryTime, you will know that I love children's books. (If you haven't been to Wondersome StoryTime I hope that you will take some time to visit me there.) Of course your local library is a great place find all of the books that you could possibly want to read. I love our libraries. The librarians are kind and helpful and there are new books coming in all the time. But if you have kids at home you want to start building your own library. When we were at Kohls the other day (see my last post) I found their Kohls Cares for Kids section. This season Kohls is featuring full size hardback Dr. Suess books for $5 and for $5 more you can buy a stuffy to go with the book. To go along with Horton Hears a Who they sell a soft squishy Horton. Grandparents, these are great gifts! Not only are you getting a really good price but Kohls donates money from the sales to organizations that help kids.
When my kids were in school I found that a great resource for ordering books was the Scholastic Book order forms that they brought home once a month. I couldn't wait for the book orders to come home so that I could look through them. I pretty much filled out our collection of Box Car Children books through Scholastic.
Amazon is also a great place to look. Their selection is never ending and they sell both new and used books. I have an astore with Amazon that I feature on Wondersome StoryTime that sells the books that I post about and some of my other favorite reads. Be sure and check out The Wondersome StoryTime Store.
Thrift stores, garage sales, used book stores, grandma's attic....where do you like to buy great books? Start building your library now. When your kids are grown, the grandchildren will love it.

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Shoestring Shopping - Buying Discount

Has this ever happened to you? You are filling up the gas tank in your car and suddenly the gas nozzle takes a disliking to you and spits gas all over your clothes? Of course that never happens when you are on your way home, it happens when you are just starting out. Usually going somewhere where they don't appreciate the smell of gasoline wafting from your shirtsleeves.
That's what happened to my husband yesterday. We were on our way into town and Greg got gas on his shirt. Now, town for us is 30 miles away and once you start out you are committed. Driving home again is not an option. So Greg stuffed the offending shirt in a plastic bag and made plans to buy a new shirt when we got to town.
I know what you're thinking.
You are thinking that buying a brand new shirt isn't very
Shoestring-ish. Well, it's not, unless you have a Kohls nearby. A Kohls department store just opened in Coeur d'Alene last year. Their normal clothes can be pretty pricey but their clearance racks are fantastic. We found a brandname shirt set with a T shirt under a button up shirt for about $8. That's $8 marked down from $42 which translates to $4 a shirt. That's Shoestring Shopping.
My daughter is one of the best discount shoppers that I know. She will be writing a guest post soon about Shoestring Shopping. In the meantime if you have any suggestions for saving money on food, clothes, appliances etc. please leave a comment and share.

images from Yotophoto
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Let Me Entertain You or Support Your Local Actor

Yes, that's me in the middle being pulled in two directions. That picture was taken during a rehearsal for the play Mary, Mary by Jean Kerr. All right, I admit it - I ....act. I also ....sing and occasionally.............I....dance. I love it! I live in a small community that is surrounded by other small communities and when we first moved here I was pretty certain that there wouldn't be any place for me to do these things that I love. Boy, was I wrong. Among these small communities there are two active and prospering theater groups, there is a wonderful community choir and a yearly variety show that includes some of the best talent in the area and draws audience from all over the Pacific Northwest. The best part is that these are not professional groups; they are volunteers. They are our neighbors and our coworkers and local business owners. We buy our groceries from them or see them at the post office and then we get together in the evening for rehearsal. That is true community. That's why they call it community theater. Community theater is a place to build friendships, to refine old talents and to learn new skills (I told you, occasionally I dance).
How does this apply to the Shoestring Lifestyle? By volunteering in your local community theater you learn performance skills without having to pay for expensive lessons. Kids and adults alike learn to work and play together, learn leadership skills, group dynamics, team building, problem solving, how to work on a budget - I think that all of those companies that pay big money for their workers to go to team building workshops would be a lot better off doing a production of Our Town or producing a musical. And if you're an audience member you get to see well known productions like Life With Father and Arsenic and Old Lace, Fiddler on the Roof and The Fantasticks all for just a fraction of what you would pay to see them at a professional theater. You save money and you get the joy of seeing your friends and neighbors do something that they love. So, take in some Shoestring Entertainment this weekend and visit your local community theater.
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Affordable Luxury - Valentine's Day

Luxury - An indulgence in something that provides pleasure (Websters)

Last night we decided to go out for coffee and a Valentines Day treat. I love these kind of dates. We cruised around town and found a new coffee place, Calypsos. It's the kind of place that you can linger in, with couches and comfy chairs and good music. They make a very good Americano and their chocolate brownies are big and rich. We split one. So we lingered for an hour eating chocolate and drinking coffee and enjoying each other's company. We could have gotten all dressed up in uncomfortable clothes and gone to an expensive restaurant where we would have spent too much and eaten too much (actually, I love those kinds of dates too) but when I picture my husband sitting in an overstuffed chair with his leg draped over one of the chair's arms, drinking coffee and so relaxed ...... I couldn't have asked for a more luxurious evening.
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Parenting on a Shoestring - The Scrap Box

You don't have to spend lots of money on art supplies for your children. You just have to give them the opportunity to create. My mom, Kay, taught kindergarten for years and her class always had the most wonderful art center filled with scraps of this and that designed to spark creativity and be turned into wonderful creations. Thanks to stores like the Dollar Tree crayons, markers, glue and scissors can be bought for very little. Our homes are full of fantastic this-and-thats that can be recycled into art. So don't wait around until you can afford expensive art lessons for your children, the time to start creating is now.
Here is one of mom's favorite ideas - The Scrap Box.

Iam a retired kindergarten teacher from Arizona and love to share ideas that worked in my classroom. One of the favorite things my kinderkids liked to do in the classroom was to have free time at the art center using the Scrap Box. This was a perfect time for them to use their creative imaginations and solve their problems independently. It was their treat to make anything they wanted to using only the items in the box. It was my joy to see their finished products and observe their satisfaction in what they were able to accomplish. I would ask them to tell me about it and I would then tell them about the parts I liked best.
This center did not include coloring books, stencils, worksheets or stamp pads. It was pretty exciting to see what they accomplished without these things. My hope is that every home with children would put together a box like this. It is not a neat and tidy activity , but it is a wonderful gift you can give. I suggest using a large plastic box with a lid.
Items included in the box:
Scissors , paper punch
markers, crayons, pencils
glue sticks, masking tape
bright yarn and string
white and colored paper scraps
poster board scraps
wallpaper and wrapping paper scraps
old greeting cards
paper plates
popsicle sticks
old magazines
greeting cards
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Shoestring Meals - Swedish Pancakes

It is 4:20 and I still don't know what to make for dinner. Since I decided to post about these delicious Swedish crepe style pancakes, I guess that's what's for dinner too. This is a recipe that belonged to my husband's grandmother. Grandma Edie was Swedish to the core and though she has been with the Lord for some time I still have the Swedish pancake recipe card that she wrote for me when I first got married. It is quite battered and stained (I'm not a neat cook) but I can still read her lovely handwriting and it is still one of our favorite meals.
Even though you would think of this as a breakfast meal we often have it for dinner. I figure 3 eggs and 2 cups milk make it high in protein and calcium. Then when you pair it with applesauce you get a decent dinner. This is a great Shoestring Recipe because when you are out of everything else you almost always have eggs, milk and flour.

Swedish Pancakes
3 eggs
2 tbl sugar (sometimes if I'm feeling guilty I use less)
2 cups rich milk (Grandma says rich milk is milk mixed with 1/2 and 1/2. I rarely have 1/2 and 1/2 so I just use milk.)
3 tbl melted butter or margarine
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour

I mix this up in a blender. Add the first 5 ingredients and blend then add the flour and blend some more until the flour is completely mixed in. Pour into small pancakes onto hot griddle. Best when served with Swedish Lingonberries (you can find lingonberries at IKEA) but also yummy with Apple Sauce.

Quick Microwave Apple Sauce
Apples are a great Shoestring staple to have on hand. There are so many things that you can do with an apple.
Peel and slice at least one apple per person. Put the apple slices in a microwavable casserole dish and add about 1 cup apple juice and a tbl of butter (butter is optional). Microwave on high until the apples are cooked and tender. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and mash until you get the consistency of apple sauce that you like. I like mine a little chunky.
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I love coffee. To me it is the ultimate in affordable luxury. When my husband, Greg, and I were first married we were, as my grandmother put it, so broke we didn't have two pennies to rub together. We discovered that when we went out with friends we could order one cup of coffee to share and the waitress would keep refilling the cup so there was plenty for both of us. Over the years we have learned to appreciate a really good cup of joe. We have also discovered the best time to enjoy a really good cup and eachother's company is CoffeeTime.
We invented CoffeeTime when my husband first started working from home. About 2:00 in the afternoon we take a break from whatever we are doing - working, blogging, schooling - and sit in Greg's office and have a coffee break. It's like a siesta but with coffee, a treat and good conversation.
We don't always have CoffeeTime inside. Today we took our coffee and treat (today's treat was kettlecorn) and sat in the greenhouse and soaked up the sun. After being cooped up because of snow it was a wonderfully luxurious thing to do.
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Shoestring Beauty - Suggestions from lovely women

I’m a sucker for the latest beauty creams, especially if they promise to make me look younger.
Though it is lots of fun to spend money at the beauty counter on the newest lotions and creams, there are many ways to stay in the beauty game without going broke. Here are some suggestions that I have found to be both beautifying and economical.

My mom taught me to take extra care of the skin around my eyes. She told me not to rub my eyes, or pull while I am putting on my eye make up. Less pulling, less wrinkles. And she told me to dab a little extra cream around the eye area because that area needs more moisture.
(My mom also told me, when I was a little girl suffering from allergies, not to rub my nose because it would leave a line. I didn’t listen to her and now I have a line. The lesson is - always listen to your mom.)

A friend who is a skin specialist told me to use body lotion on my face instead of buying expensive facial creams. But don’t use the heavy greasy lotions they will make you break out.

Another gal I know who is a cosmetologist suggested using gentle shampoo to wash your face. She said that our faces have basically the same ph as our hair. I never researched that to find out if it is true but the shampoo takes the make up off without drying my face.

I was also told by a friend, who worked in the beauty business for years, to use Mayonnaise on your hair as a conditioner. She said to work the Mayo through wet hair and then wrap your hair in a plastic bag and let it sit for about 15 – 30 min. Then rinse thoroughly. She says that it is the best thing and I have talked to others who say that the Mayo treatment works. I tried it once and it made me hungry but my hair was shiny.

Be sure and leave a comment if you have any money saving beauty suggestions.
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Shoestring Meals - Terrific Twice Baked Potaoes

It was my husband's birthday a few days ago. I was looking for a side dish to go with his birthday dinner and he suggested twice-baked potatoes. I went to my latest favorite cookbook, The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, and found the yummiest recipe for T.B.P's.
These potatoes could really be a whole meal in themselves. They are made deliciously with only 4 ingredients which makes them a perfect Shoestring Meal. Here is my version of
Twice-Baked Potaoes:
4 medium sized potatoes
1 cup shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 milk
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
3 Tbs butter
salt, pepper, onion powder or garlic powder

1.Preheat oven to 450. Wash and prick potatoes. Bake them for 1 hour or until the insides are soft. To make the cooking faster start by cooking the potatoes in the microwave on high until slightly soft, about 10 min. Then transfer to the oven to finish them off. When the potatoes are finished baking, change the oven temp to 350.
2. Take the potatoes out of the oven and allow to cool. When they are easy to handle, slice sideways and spoon out the flesh into another bowl. Leave about 1/4 inch of flesh in the skins. Arrange the shells skin side down on a baking sheet and brush them with 1 tbls of melted butter or olive oil then return them to the oven for about 15 min.
3. While the shells are in the oven mix together the potato flesh, cheese, milk, sour cream(optional), rest of the butter, salt, pepper and onion or garlic powder to taste. I use my mixer but a hand held potato masher also works.
4. Remove the skins from the oven and spoon the potato mixture into each skin. Return the stuffed potatoes to the oven and bake until they start to brown up. Let cool a little before you serve them.

These are delicious on their own or dress them up with bacon bits, ham, mushrooms, chives, sour cream, ranch dressing or whatever else your family likes.

If you have a way to make potatoes into a meal please post a comment and share.
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This is a real winter! - emergency water

This year we are having a real North Idaho winter. We love it! The snow is so beautiful and everything feels muffled and cozy. But my husband is running out of places to put the snow when he plows so consequently our driveway has become so narrow that our car scrapes the sides of the snow as we drive through. Another common winter problem is frozen water pipes and power outages. So far we have been fortunate not to have to deal with either but a number of my friends have had problems with both. I hate not having water so I am stocking up on water again.
I could go to town and buy water but it is less expensive to recycle my plastic gallon milk jugs and fill them with water. As soon as we finish a gallon of milk I rinse it out well and spray it with bleach water. I let the bleach water dry to kill bacteria. Then I fill the jug about half way with water add 1 tsp of bleach and shake, shake, shake. Dump the bleach water, do a final rinse and fill with clear water. It is recommended to add about 1/8 - 1/4 of a tsp. of bleach to the water just to make sure that any lingering bacteria is killed. Don't fill it to the top if you are storing it out where it could freeze. The water needs room to expand if it freezes. Label the jug with the month and year and store. Right now we have water stored under our sinks in the bathrooms and on shelves in the garage. We also store some jugs in our freezer. This helps our freezer to run more efficiently is it only partially full of food and if we loose power the ice in the jugs helps to keep things frozen.
If you live in the city you may not think that storing water is necessary but just think about the long lines that you wont have to stand in if the water goes out. For more information about storing water check out this site.
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